Data handling challenges and software solutions

Metering provider EDMI Europe won a major contract that involved supplying communication hub devices and service management to a major communications service provider, and supporting secure data transfer between smart meters, in-home display devices, and energy suppliers. The is part of the UK’s smart meter roll-out program. To support an estimated 10 million devices over five years, EDMI Europe needed new logistics and repair management systems. And by the end of 2020, 53 million smart meters are expected to be installed throughout the UK. In other words, a solution to enhance EDMI’s IT capabilities was needed!

Tier 2 Consulting helped EDMI to build its new IT solution using Red Hat JBoss Fuse, a flexible integration platform. Red Hat JBoss Fuse has helped the company prepare for greatly increased demand by automating and streamlining processes.

The scale of the data and the challenge

To fulfill their new contract and meet UK government requirements, EDMI needed enhanced IT capabilities to track forward logistics in its supply chain, generate related contractual reports, and communicate these reports to its suppliers and end customers. In addition, EDMI needed to build a triage service to process any devices reported as faulty. To determine if a device should be fixed or recycled, data from several sources needed to be compiled, processed, and stored. With 10 million devices being delivered during the five-year contract, the triage system will need to handle hundreds of thousands of items.

A flexible integration platform that supports creation of new solutions

EDMI evaluated solutions from multiple vendors, including IBM and Red Hat. And eventually, they chose to deploy a solution based on Red Hat JBoss Fuse, with assistance from Tier 2 Consulting, a Red Hat Premier Partner.

Red Hat JBoss Fuse is a cost-effective, lightweight integration platform that offers modern enterprise service bus (ESB) capabilities to connect enterprise applications, application programming interfaces (APIs), services and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. With JBoss Fuse, EDMI can connect to client’s Salesforce order management system via web services, as well as the client’s File Transfer Protocol (FTP) servers and MySQL database.

“We needed a tool that would act as a gateway between our systems and third-party systems and would integrate with the existing MySQL database that holds a lot of our assets and service information. Red Hat JBoss Fuse gives us all the functionality required without needing an army of people to deploy, manage, and maintain it.”Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

EDMI and Tier 2 used EDMI’s forward logistics database: an FTP server, and a separate testing system that sends data back to JBoss Fuse to build the triage solution. By combining that data with database information and using the IBM rules engine, EDMI can determine whether there is a true fault on a device and identify the responsible parties and next steps. Both this solution and the data communication solution were run on-premise at EDMI’s offices to comply with data security restrictions. To build and deploy these solutions, EDMI created a high-level architecture for Tier 2, including use case and interface details. From this architecture, Tier 2 created a detailed design.

“It was very much a joint effort, and it’s been a smooth implementation process. Tier 2 has always been on time and delivered everything they said they were going to do.”Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

The advantages of this data handling solution:

●     Lower IT licensing costs

The Red Hat solution has helped EDMI control its IT expenses with a subscription-based model that offers better costs and flexibility compared to other vendors’ licensing models.

“In terms of licenses and subscriptions alone, there was about a £30,000 a year difference between Red Hat JBoss Fuse and other solutions we were considering. We also knew that we would need professional services. Working with a Red Hat Premier Partner, Tier 2, offers cost-effective support.” Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

●     Access to expert support

EDMI also gained access to local support and technology expertise. By using Red Hat JBoss Fuse, they have gained access to expert enterprise guidance through Red Hat and Tier 2. “Part of the reason we chose Tier 2 is because they are a local, UK-based Red Hat Premier Partner that we get timely support from when needed. We have access to the right people at Tier 2 and software support from Red Hat through the annual subscription. That accessibility is key for us and saves us time.”

Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

●     Simplified IT management and development

Achieved through unified integration of multiple systems. Streamlined processes and improved efficiency through automation.

“Red Hat JBoss Fuse gives us all the functionality required without us needing an army of people to deploy, manage, and maintain it.”

Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

●     Platform success leads to plans for continued expansion

EDMI plans to widen the scope of the solution beyond communication hubs to include smart meters, as well as other potential products and for other markets in the future. “We are very happy with the way the smart meter project has gone so far,” said the lead architect. “We’re confident enough in the solution that we’re expanding what we’re doing with Tier 2 and Red Hat JBoss Fuse.”Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

●     Compliance with government requirements

To meet UK government requirements, EDMI needed enhanced IT capabilities to track forward logistics in its supply chain, generate related contractual reports, and communicate these reports to its suppliers and end customers.

With this middleware solution, management and costs are improved and management and development is streamlined.

EDMI can more easily maintain its databases. Red Hat JBoss Fuse simplifies management and deployment by eliminating the code complexity associated with using multiple systems. As a result, EDMI can use fewer resources in a more efficient manner. In addition, the pattern-based Apache Camel technology in Red Hat JBoss Fuse also helps EDMI and Tier 2 to quickly develop, deploy, or adapt the solution using premade integrations.

“The main benefit of JBoss Fuse is that it gives us a standard integration architecture approach and a single point of integration with our systems, rather than point-to-point solutions that are harder and more time-consuming to maintain. Any access and updates to our databases are abstracted from third-party systems via JBoss Fuse.” Lead Solutions Architect, EDMI

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